Products - What is it made of?

WHAT IS GRANITE?

Granite has been around for centuries is indisputably the most popular stone type used in countertop applications today.

Granite, an igneous rock formed deep in the earth’s mantle at extremely high temperatures, is a dense grained, very hard and resistant stone composed primarily of quartz, feldspar and mica and other crystallized minerals, and is an especially good choice for kitchen countertops, floors and other heavily used surfaces. Minerals within the granite typically appear as small flecks throughout the stone or as veining similar to marble. The stone is quarried in large blocks which are then cut into slabs and polished. Millions of years of time coupled with the earth's pressure has resulted in a wide variety of colors, textures and unique crystal patterns - all breathtaking pieces of natural beauty.

In the stone industry “granite” has been a term applied to almost all igneous rocks. Traditionally any very hard crystalline rock with no apparent natural jointing, being difficult to work with special tools, that takes a high polish and is extremely resistant to natural weathering, would be called a granite.

Granite can be worked to achieve every type of finish from traditional hand tooled, flame textured, sand blasted, acid-washed and honed, to highly polished mirror finishes.

WHAT IS MARBLE?

Marble, frequently used for bathroom vanities and fireplace surrounds, began as limestone sediment at the bottom of bodies of water. After millions of years, the limestone re-crystallized through intense heat and pressure, and during this metamorphosis, other minerals were introduced to produce rich colours and veining.

Marble is sensitive to acids and acidic foods such as vinegar, lemons, tomatoes, wine, perfumes and shaving creams, as well as aggressive cleaning products which will etch the finish on marble countertops. Marble is ideal for fireplace surrounds or powder room vanity tops and other non high-traffic areas.

For customers wanting an indestructible, maintenance-free product, marble may not be the natural stone choice for you. However, marble has been used for centuries in high-traffic and cooking areas. Should you decide to use Marble in your kitchen or bath, we recommend you be aware that your countertops will show some wear and develop a unique "patina" over time. While we have very effective impregnating sealers to deal with the potential of staining, however, there is no product to prevent etching from acids.

WHAT IS QUARTZITE?

Quartzite, gaining in popularity because of its marble-look and granite-like performance (low maintenance), is a hard, metamorphic rock which was originally sandstone. Sandstone is converted into quartzite through heating and pressure usually related to tectonic compression within orogenic belts. Pure quartzite is usually white to grey. Quartzite often occurs in various shades of pink and red due to varying amounts of iron oxide. Other colors are due to impurities of minor amounts of other minerals.

WHAT IS LIMESTONE?

Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate. Most limestone are composed from skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral or foraminifera.

Limestone is very common in architecture, especially in Europe and North America. Many landmarks across the world are made of limestone. Limestone is readily available and relatively easy to cut into blocks or more elaborate carving. It is also long-lasting and stands up well to exposure.

Acid-based cleaning chemicals can also etch limestone, which should only be cleaned with a neutral or mild alkaline-based cleaner.

WHAT IS TRAVERTINE?

Travertine is a sedimentary rock and is a form of limestone, deposited by mineral springs, especially hot springs. Travertine often has a fibrous or concentric appearance and exists in white, tan, cream-colored, and even rusty varieties. It is formed by a process of rapid precipitation of calcium carbonate, often at the mouth of a hot spring or in a limestone cave. In the latter, it can form stalactites, stalagmites, and other speleothems. It is frequently used in Italy and elsewhere as a building material.

Travertine is characterised by pitted holes and troughs in its surface. Although these troughs occur naturally, they suggest signs of considerable wear and tear over time. Travertine can be purchased "filled" or "unfilled" and be polished to a smooth, shiny finish. It comes in a variety of colors from grey to coral-red and is most commonly available in tile sizes for floor installations, however it is also available is slab form.

WHAT IS QUARTZ or ENGINEERED STONE?

Unlike granite and other genuine stone which have been around for centuries, Quartz countertops have been in the marketplace since the 1980’s. These man-made engineered stone countertops are formed by combining 90% ground quartz (a natural hard mineral) with 8-10% resins, polymers, and pigments. This forms a very hard granite-like surface. The appearance depends on how the quartz is ground: coarsely ground quartz produces a flecked appearance, while finely ground quartz produces a smooth look. Engineered stone products are an option in commercial applications where countertop surfaces must be one specific colour with no variation.

Prior to the 2006 opening of Northern Marble And Granite in Temagami, Paul’s Ontario (Windsor), Michigan (Farmington Hills) and Illinois (Chicago) granite shops supplied, fabricated and installed genuine stone (Granite, Marble, Quartzite, Limestone, Travertine), solid surface (DuPont Certified Corian) and quartz or engineered stone countertops (Zodiaq and Silestone).

Paul’s experience with all of these countertop surfaces has taught him this:

Just because quartz or engineered stone is as strong and as difficult to damage granite, doesn't mean that quartz does not have its problems. Since quartz is comprised of 10% polyester resins, polymers and pigments, there is a chance that the surface can scorch should it come into contact with a hot pan. (Granite, remember, is formed with heat and pressure and extreme temperatures will not damage granite – think pizza stones and curling rocks).

Quartz is a hard material but these countertops are an engineered substance and they aren't immune to chipping. They'll take the everyday normal use but they're not indestructible and can chip or crack if hit hard enough. Although it's hard and feels like stone, quartz countertops aren't tolerant to a lot of heat. In other words, don't expect to put that hot pot or pan down on your quartz countertop without the possibility of some damage occurring. You'll need to use trivets and hot pads to protect the surface. Quartz slab manufacturers make their products in uniform sizes, typically about 4.5 feet wide by 10 feet long. Large or expansive countertop designs will require multiple slabs and resulting seams. Quartz counters can also be damaged from exposure to chemicals that have high or low pH (highly acidic or alkaline) like rust removers, aluminum brightening compounds, heavy duty cleaner, bleach and others. The manufacturer's "care and maintenance" literature should spell out what to watch out for. And, aside from diamond quartz is the hardest material around. But that doesn't mean your quartz countertop will never scratch under any circumstances. Remember, it's made up of a percentage of resin material that binds the quartz crystals together. Certain manufacturers will advertise that you can cut right on the surface. You might be able to chop a bit on the surface but any habit of cutting has a good chance of damaging your surface over time.

With so many manufacturers of quartz slabs, and each with their own special “repair kit” for addressing quartz countertop problems and blemishes is a very special skill that involves complicated processes. The painstaking task often requires painting and chip repair and it is recommended that you leave repairs to professionals. Trying to fix them yourself may create more problems, resulting in an expensive and annoying mistake if you constantly have to repair a wrongly installed countertop.

With the increase in popularity of quartz countertops, Northern Marble And Granite has been called upon numerous times for touch ups and repairs to quartz countertops installed by other fabricators who’s CNC equipment may be able to quickly cut the shape of a kitchen, but who may have less “hands-on” experience with how to properly handle installation problems, or be proficient in providing a reputable repair should the homeowner inadvertently scorch or scratch their quartz countertop after installation.

To be able to properly serve our clientele, we stand behind and offer Genuine Stone only. It is still the most durable countertop surface available, and in that we trust, as do thousands of our happy customers. With granite we simply have less call backs for repairs and if repairs are ever required, which is rare, genuine stone such as granite simply needs an experienced hand to properly restore it.

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